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I'm in the home town of one of England's most loved crime writers.
In the English language, her books have only been outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare.
Find out which county is the source of such criminal creativity in a moment.
'Today, I'll be helping a couple ditch busy suburban life to seek riverside bliss in the country.
'It could be all plain sailing.'
This is a fantastic room.
'But the mystery house always throws our house-hunters off course.'
Today, I'm in Wallingford in Oxfordshire,
and it was here from 1934 till her death in 1976 that Agatha Christie lived,
one of our most beloved whodunnit writers.
It was here that she wrote The Mouse Trap
which is still running in London after more than 20,000 performances.
Hopefully, we won't come across any murderous mishaps,
but we will be looking at some beautiful property in this most wonderful county.
The historic county of Oxfordshire is home to one of Britain's cultural epicentres.
Its capital, Oxford, is dominated by its prestigious university
which dates back to the 11th century and is the oldest in England.
Many of Oxfordshire's towns have grown up along the River Thames which meanders through the county.
Henley-on-Thames is world famous for its annual summer regatta
and Wallingford, historically a prosperous trading centre,
offers fine stretches of river where you can moor up and relax.
The county's heritage is reflected in its architecture from pretty thatched cottages
to Georgian merchant houses, so there's plenty of property on offer here to suit all tastes.
In the general downward spiral of house prices across the country, Oxfordshire is faring rather well.
The average decline has been 18%, but here it's just been 12.
Prices are dropping, but because really nice properties by the river are scarce, they get snapped up.
They're rare and they're beautiful, but we have managed to find some. Take a look.
If you can stretch to £1.5 million, there's this five-bedroomed stone farmhouse in Horspath.
It has four grand reception rooms, an impressive kitchen/dining room
and conservatory with views of the two and a quarter acres of garden.
For £525,000, this four-bedroomed, detached house in Chilton Village
offers a cheerful kitchen/breakfast room and a large, light family room
with doors leading out on to the terraced gardens.
This three-bedroomed, Grade 2 listed thatched cottage in Wroxton could be yours for £380,000.
It exudes character charm with its spacious sitting/dining room, open fireplaces
and cottage-style garden.
Lovely - some of Oxfordshire's finest properties,
but are they what our house buyers today are looking for? And can they afford them?
Today's escapees are Mark, a pet food supplier, and Karen.
They've lived in their four-bedroomed property in Ruislip, Middlesex, for 17 years
and have now decided to downsize and realise their dream of moving to the country.
But with two grown-up daughters still living with them, there's only so much downsizing they can do.
The house we live in at the moment, it's a lot of work for Karen,
so I think now is the time to downsize a bit with a lot less maintenance.
Rather than spending all weekend, every weekend, cleaning and tidying up,
it would be nice to just spend that time in a more recreational way, I think.
They're looking to Oxfordshire, around Henley-on-Thames, for their change of lifestyle.
We'd like to move to the country because we just love the open space.
We love the countryside for the walking, we've got the dog.
That's quite a big side of our recreational life now.
But it's soaking up life by the river which is a major driving force behind their move.
We bought a boat a couple of years ago and have spent most weekends going up and down the river,
which we thoroughly enjoy, don't we?
We've fallen in love with the area, so we'd like to spend seven days a week there, not just weekends.
Their boat is moored at a lock about a 50-minute drive from where they are now,
but ideally, they'd keep it a bit closer to home.
One of the purposes of moving to this type of area would be to access the boat more easily
and spend evenings down here, as well as weekends.
When we come down here, we just always feel so much more relaxed.
-It's like going on holiday.
-It is. We go back after a couple of days and feel quite refreshed.
In order to see how much their property is worth,
we've arranged for a local estate agent to value the house.
It's a lovely chalet bungalow,
arguably one of the best spots in Ruislip.
For those reasons, I would value this property at around £650,000.
The estate agent's valuation
in this current market is pretty accurate. I feel it's a fair price.
So what's the budget for their move?
The budget for our next move would be around the £600,000 mark.
As well as being close to the river and having space for the family,
they don't want to feel cut off.
The ideal location for me would be in a village.
I do like to have a bit of life. I don't want to be too isolated.
There are features of their current property they are reluctant to lose.
This is probably my favourite room of the house.
It's the room we spend a lot of time in, cooking, Mark doing the cooking, me doing the clearing up,
girls gossiping, letting me know what's going on in the world and with their friends.
I'd like that in the new house.
They might have intentions of downsizing,
but they want their dream home to make a grand impression.
I'd be looking for some uniqueness, just something different, something unusual
that gave me that real "Wow, I really want to live here" feeling.
I would also like a nice view as well. That's important to me.
The first part of Mark and Karen's house-searching criteria is not so problematic -
three bedrooms, nice house, big kitchen/diner, manageable garden.
The second part, being close to the river, is more spiky as everybody wants to be near the Thames.
However, we've given ourselves the leeway of being 20 to 30 minutes away from a mooring
which makes things a little bit easier.
'Our search will radiate out from Henley-on-Thames
'with properties being no more than a 30-minute drive from a part of the river with mooring potential.
'And with their daughters working in London, they'll need to be in commuting distance from the capital.
'I'll be taking our couple to see three choice houses which can't fail to impress,
'but I won't reveal the price tags until they've had a good look round.
'Last of the three is the mystery property which could always make a splash.'
Karen and Mark, welcome to Oxfordshire.
-It's not a million miles away from Ruislip, but will it be a wrench leaving friends and family?
We've been thinking about that. It will be a bit of a wrench, but we feel we're ready for it now.
-17 years is a long time in one place. We're both ready for the move now, aren't we?
We've got a big circle of friends and, hopefully, they'll come and see us here because it's so beautiful.
-But it's the boats that are calling you.
-This is a new hobby?
-We've only had the boat a couple of years, but we thoroughly enjoy the river.
We'll try and find a place near the river, not on the river. Your budget doesn't allow for that.
-Is 600,000 the top of your budget? You haven't given us a bit more to play with?
It's where we'd feel comfortable.
-We've got some nice properties lined up. Shall we go and look?
'So Karen and Mark's budget is £600,000.'
'So, time to take to the road.'
How realistic are you about being close to the river?
-It's probably wishful thinking.
-It's almost like to reach that dream house, we need to downsize.
-A big downstairs and smaller bedrooms, that would possibly be a compromise.
-Yeah, that's fine.
'Wise words indeed.
'We'll see if they change their minds during our house search.
'Our first property is in Waterperry, a 20-minute drive from an Oxford river mooring
'and an hour's commute from London.
'The village has some lovely local gems, including the Queen Anne frontage of Waterperry House,
'the wooden tower of the village church and Waterperry Gardens with open-air theatre performances.
'I have high hopes that this barn conversion may take us one step closer
'to finding Mark and Karen's dream home.'
-How do we feel about barn conversions?
-She's all excited.
Cotswold stone. Barn originally probably from the 17th century,
-but obviously, inside, all your mod cons.
-It's certainly got potential.
-I see smiles. Good.
-I am smiling.
-It's definitely got potential.
-So this could be the thing.
-It could be.
-This could be the one.
'They're eager to get inside and I'm sure they'll be impressed by what lies beyond the front door.'
Come on in.
-Here we have the downstairs.
-I love it.
-Do you love it?
-Yeah, very nice.
-What do you love about it?
-It's just a lovely feel.
Very tastefully done. It just makes you feel relaxed walking in here. It's lovely.
-You've also got a log burner which kicks out a lot of heat in the winter.
-I love this. Very nice.
-So can you imagine spending some winter nights here?
-With friends around the fire? It's a nice, big space, isn't it?
They've used it well. You wouldn't need to do anything to this.
-With what we've seen so far.
-It doesn't stop here. It goes in a sort of dog leg.
-This is the main room. This was the barn. Then it comes out into what used to be the kitchen.
-They moved the kitchen from this end to the other end.
-Can we go and have a look?
-I'm afraid not(!)
Yes, of course.
'Lots of smiles so far. Let's see what they make of the kitchen.'
-Did I hear an "ah"?
This is lovely.
Oh, this is a fantastic room.
Very, very nice. Very "us". Very "you".
Yes, this is exactly what I was looking for. Very, very nice.
-What do you like about it?
The space. An eating, sitting, living kitchen.
It ticks all those boxes.
I love the mixture of modern and the warmth and cosiness of the beams.
-Very pet-friendly floor. Everything is "us friendly".
-So thumbs up for the kitchen?
Now we have to sort out all the sleeping arrangements. Let's go upstairs.
'Mark and Karen seem pleased with the downstairs which also has a utility room and cloakroom,
'and so upstairs we go where we find all four bedrooms, including one nice-sized double
'and two smaller, light, well-decorated rooms.
'There's also a modern family bathroom, but I'm taking them to the other end of the landing
'where their bedroom awaits.'
Here's your master.
Very, very good.
Yeah, this suits us. It's a fantastic room.
-Very, very nice.
It's a very tasteful house.
You've got these skylights which really pour in light
and the little "Juliet" balcony over the garden.
-You can serenade me.
Are there any wardrobes in here?
-Yes, they're here.
-Then you've got a very nice en-suite.
-This is great.
-It's good, isn't it?
-It's very tastefully done, I think.
This lovely combination of old and new really, really works well together.
-Yeah, they've done a nice job.
-The whole place has a really nice feel to it.
-It does. Very welcoming.
'The house offers them space to accommodate their children and character features in spades,
'so if they like the garden, we may be on to a winner.'
-It's not massive, but you didn't want massive.
-We figured that's OK.
-This is idyllic.
It's enough space for the dog to run around, but not too much work, and you're not overlooked.
-It's quite private.
-But you are in a community, so you're not completely remote.
And do you think you can afford it?
No, I don't think so. I'd like to hope so, but I think more... 610, I'm gonna go.
About halfway between the two. It's on at 595.
-It's dropped quite a bit since being on the market.
It's only been on the market since...about six months.
But, you know, it's a buyer's market right now.
-Have a look inside and then we'll meet out the front.
Satisfied customers, I think.
I think that kitchen blew them away and who can blame them?
It's tossing up about whether it's close enough to the river,
but I think we've got Karen.
This barn conversion comes in just under budget at £595,000 and fits our couple's brief perfectly.
It's an hour's commute to London with nights out in Oxford for their daughters.
When I first saw the property, I really liked the look of it.
It's got plenty of character and we've both always liked the idea of a barn conversion.
Beautiful lounge, very tastefully done. The kitchen is absolutely fantastic. I really like it.
My only worry about the property is how far it is from where we live at the moment
and how long it would take me to get to my boat, but otherwise it ticks lots of boxes.
I thought, "Wow, this is my type of property!"
The outside is fantastic.
It's got a real homely feel to it.
Then when we came through the door, even more so.
This is the sort of house I can see myself in.
'Karen and Mark leave smiling after what seemed a very promising house tour.'
'The River Thames has been a famous water highway for centuries and the scene of historic rowing rivalry
'between two of England's oldest universities.
'Oxford University Boat Club has existed since 1829,
'the year of the first Oxford and Cambridge boat race,
'which is now watched worldwide by more than 100 million people.'
As a sporadic and not very good rower from my days at Cambridge,
it pains me greatly to say Oxford University thrashed us the last two years in a row in the boat race,
but I'm putting my pride to one side and meeting one of the victorious oarsmen, Colin Smith,
who not only won for Oxford - boo, but won for Britain too at the Olympics.
-Colin, nice to see you.
-Nice to see you.
'Colin has trained on this stretch of the River Thames for five years and knows it better than most.'
We're here in Oxfordshire because we're concentrating on the Thames. I know the boat race is in London.
I've seen fours and eights going up and down the river. Is rowing as big a thing as we imagine it is?
It's huge, especially in Oxfordshire.
No matter what time of year, there are always so many boats going up and down, all ages and abilities.
It's a real centre of rowing in this country and around the world.
I'm feeling slightly anxious being here with an Olympian, but you'll put me through my paces.
-I've not done it for about 20 years.
Welcome to Oxford University Boat Club. We'll see what your rowing is like now.
'Today's modern boathouse stores Oxford's pristine racing eight boats, each costing £28,000.
'They're made from Kevlar and carbon fibre materials which make the boat light, strong and ergonomic,
'very different from the heavy old wooden things I used in my time.
'While I help Colin carry our boat to the river, I'm trying to remember the basics
'as my oarmanship skills are pretty rusty.
'Straight back, push with the legs, keep my oars at right angles to the water.
'I don't want to disappoint Colin as we start working as a team.'
-So, shoes off, into the boat. We'll go see how your Cambridge rowing is.
-I'm starting to get anxious now.
'It's quite disconcerting as we push away from land.
'I certainly don't want to rock the boat too much.'
We'll just go along with the backs and the arms now.
-Don't worry if the blades run along the water.
-It's quite hard keeping them square.
'Ah, this takes me back to the days of my youth. The old technique is starting to return...'
Oh! 'With the odd hiccup.
'In the lead-up to the famous boat race,
'Colin and the team put in 24 hours a week of training for nine months,
'burning up to 6,000 calories a day. Very gruelling.
'Just as it's all going well, Colin sets me the challenge of doing a racing start.'
Make sure the oars are nicely covered, correctly square.
Just sit in a comfortable position. When we go, just push with the legs and pull with the back.
-Are you ready?
'Racing teams can reach up to 14 miles per hour and it certainly feels like we're hurtling along.'
'Come on, Appleton, don't let the team down!'
And easy there.
-You've clearly got some natural talent.
That'll be the Olympian telling me I'm really good at rowing.
'I may have mastered the rowing,
'but whether we can find Mark and Karen's winning property remains to be seen.
'As the sun sets over Oxfordshire,
'the first day of our property hunt is at an end.'
'Mark and Karen want to quit the suburbs of Ruislip
'and downsize to a riverside retreat in Oxfordshire.
'With a budget of £600,000, they want a character home with a big kitchen to entertain in.
'They've seen one property and, coming up, our navigational skills are put to the test.'
-We could play hide and seek.
-It's like an Aladdin's cave.
'And there's the mystery property which may give them a completely different view on downsizing.'
Day two of our search along the property riverbank
and Karen and Mark are being quite flexible about what they're looking for.
They're not very rigid in their dream home just yet,
so we'll cast the net a bit wider, looking outside of Oxfordshire,
then also show them something that's right on the river. It's going to be interesting.
Our next property is in Aldermaston just over the border into Berkshire
and an hour's commute from London for Mark and Karen's daughters.
The village centre is a conservation area and still retains its distinctive character.
There's even a pub with its own jail, happily not in use now.
Beside picture-perfect properties,
Mark and Karen can walk their dog along the Kennet and Avon Canal and be 20 minutes away from a mooring.
The house we're showing them is a barn conversion and will test their resolve on downsizing.
Come on in, through this little secret magic garden.
-This is the property I want to show you.
-So we've come into Berkshire, Aldermaston is Berkshire,
and it's on the canal. I don't think your boat is licensed for canals.
-Not at the moment, no.
-You might look into that.
-Or buy a new boat, Mark!
The nearest mooring on the river is Reading, actually.
This is the property. It's a barn, an old grain storage barn.
The little ventilation holes kept the grain well-aired. It was converted in 2000, nine years ago.
-You wanted something unusual architecturally.
-Inside is definitely unusual architecturally.
'Karen's longed-for quirky features pop up even before we make it inside.'
-The architectural interest starts here.
-That's a fabulous door.
-It's like something out of a church.
-Strange you should say that. It is a chapel door that was salvaged.
Come on in. You need to pay attention. The house is complicated!
-You've got the flooring throughout the house, actually.
-Very strong stylistic elements.
-Yes, very nicely done.
-I want you to notice that it's a multi-layered house.
It's on several levels.
-That is your lounge.
-That's very unusual!
The lounge? Up there?
There's downstairs, there's this floor, the mid floor, then upstairs.
-It's working on lots of levels.
This is a little games room, but I want to take you to the kitchen.
-Oh, this is lovely.
-Very, very nice.
-Yeah, this is nice.
-Unusual layout, but it's good.
How would this work for you in terms of entertaining friends and family?
I think it would be good for us. There's a nice table and chairs,
-so the family can sit and watch Mum and Dad cook, as they normally do.
-I think it's very user-friendly.
-Two ovens, so I can leave a mess everywhere!
It's a mess-tastic kitchen!
-There's a lot of rooms in this house.
-Very unusual property.
-It's...it's quite a labyrinth.
-Let's look upstairs. It's downstairs and upstairs.
'As we head up to the first floor, things get more and more curious.'
-I feel I need a map to explain all this house to you.
-It's very different.
The house is a mirror image, so there's a staircase on this end and another one at the other end.
-And the staircase is split in two by the beam...
-..inside the house.
So you've got a double staircase. So you won't cross on the stairs, which is bad luck.
'Superstition aside, we'll venture in to what could be their master - one of the five bedrooms here.'
It's not massive... but it's got a lot of light.
Yeah, it's quite snug.
-And you've got a lot of storage here..
-Plenty of wardrobes.
Essentially, this whole landing would be yours. You've the bathroom on the other side. It's your wing.
Yeah. Again, it's a real quirky room.
-What do you think, Mark?
-Yeah. No, I like it.
-Not too small?
-No. Perfectly adequate. Only sleep in the bedroom.
'Although there's no en suite, one of two family bathrooms is right next door.'
-Well, this is lovely.
-It's nicely done.
-Very tastefully done.
-It's a very artistic shower.
-There's certainly a lot of rooms.
'We continue through this maze on the first floor to the main sitting room.'
-Oh, this is gorgeous!
-Oh, yes. It's very nice.
Very unusual, isn't it? Cos we're now upstairs. It's slightly topsy-turvy.
You certainly don't expect a lounge in the middle of a house.
-So that's the window to what could be the dining room?
-Exactly. Where we looked up before.
-And a snug up the top there.
-It's a clever use of space.
-It's amazing. It doesn't seem like there's space inside for all these layers.
And it's very well done.
Then we go through here and you've got the mirror image.
'They seem pretty switched on to this house. This side has the second bathroom and a single bedroom.
'Up on the second floor is a third double bedroom and a dressing area.
-'With our tour picking up pace, we're going downstairs for more fun and games.'
-It's an Aladdin's cave!
More rooms here.
-Oh, this one's a bit small for the girls. That wouldn't fit all their clothes and shoes.
-This one has a sink.
-Oh, this is a good room. This would be good for one of the girls.
Very, very unusual property.
'There are certainly enough bedrooms for their daughters. Now it's time to scope the garden.'
There isn't much more to the garden that you haven't seen. The courtyard there is very pretty,
-but this is your lot. But that's all right.
-Don't want too much garden work.
-You've got enough to do inside!
-A lot of cleaning.
-How much do you think it costs?
-Oh, dear. It's so difficult.
-I'm gonna... 585.
-Yeah, pretty much.
-575. It's actually on the market at 600.
-Although you weren't looking to be close to Reading, to be close to it is very desirable
-because of the links into London.
-It's a very nice property. I'd like a good look round it.
-I'll give you a ball of string in case you get lost! And meet you at the front.
-Excellent. Thank you.
Wow. That's great, because this was a wildcard, this house.
Some people would have really hated all that labyrinthine up and down. They seemed to really like it.
Great. And they're chatting away. They're thinking about what to do with it. First step to a sale!
Bang on their limit at £600,000, this barn conversion offers:
With access to the river and transport links for their girls.
-This house is like Aladdin's cave!
-There's so many rooms in here.
-I don't know that I'd keep this as a dining room.
-I don't think so.
-I'd have the upstairs one. Could we have this as a pool room?
You'd get the pool table in there.
It's great. Very, very quirky.
It's got lots of lovely features. Very unusual, all on different levels. It's a great property.
The girls would like it. Plenty of bedrooms for them to argue over.
And, from what I understand, it's quite easy to get into London, so...who knows?
'Our couple will be ditching their desire to live right on the river if they go for this family house.
'Are they ready to make that leap?
'As they seem drawn to quirky buildings, we've brought them to this towering architectural oddity,
'20 miles outside Oxford. Faringdon Folly was built in 1935
'and stands proudly as a monument to great British eccentricity.
'To tell us more is Eddie Williams, one of the Folly's trustees,
'who reveals the reason for its extravagant design.'
It was built by Lord Berners, who owned this land.
This was called Folly Hill way before there was a tower.
He said, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a folly on top of this hill?"
He had real trouble getting planning permission. The locals couldn't understand the benefit of it.
And the real point of the tower is it's completely useless!
It was built for fun, for the view, but with no purpose in mind.
'Although conceived with fun in mind, its construction didn't go entirely to plan.'
Berners went on holiday for three months to Rome. When he came back, it was in plain classical style.
Berners was furious. Hence, the top 20 feet is in Gothic style,
very different from the rest of it.
'Time to take a look, but at 104 feet, it's a daunting climb up inside the tower.
'Here in the Belvedere Room, Lord Berners would have entertained his high society guests,
'but Mark and Karen plough on to the top and it's worth the effort
-'with panoramic views across five counties.'
-Who did he get to build the tower?
There is a myth that he had the tower built to give employment in the area during the Depression,
but he only employed one extra labourer beyond his staff in the grounds and in his house,
-with carpenters and builders already employed.
-So everybody would have...
-Everybody was doing their bit.
'Hopefully, such fantastic views have inspired Mark and Karen to broaden their horizons
'when it comes to choosing a home for the next stage of their lives.'
It's very interesting showing them these properties.
They don't want to downsize at all. "I want to downsize into a house with the same number of bedrooms."
They don't really want to get rid of anything, but they do want to be closer to the river.
For the Mystery House, we'll focus their minds entirely on the boat
to make it clear what they're going to have to let go of.
Our mystery property is a quick boat ride from the centre of Henley.
Henley is a genteel town on the banks of the Thames, filled with well-preserved buildings
and a thriving market. The perfect spot for our couple to moor up and soak up life on the river.
Come in to the mystery garden.
-We got a wow out of you! That's very good.
-A big wow.
You've got to remember, the mystery house is a mind experiment.
What you really wanted was a place on the water with your own mooring.
On the Thames Valley, that is extremely expensive,
but the mystery house is just that. It is a place on the water with your own private mooring.
How much do you want that? How important is that idea?
-I'm very interested to see what you've got to show us.
-That sound of the water.
-But obviously there are compromises.
-The compromise is this.
It's not all yours!
This is an old mill house, again a conversion, done in '82.
-It is a block of apartments.
That's the thinking. Your apartment, however, is...
-the only one with a balcony.
-How do you feel about apartment living?
-Never done it. Don't know anything about it.
-But very interested to look inside.
-Just to warn you,
this would really be downsizing.
-You've got to think, really,
-Just the two of you.
-Your boat and the countryside.
-It's just a mind experiment.
'Mark and Karen don't seem daunted, but they can't stop looking at that view.
'Let's take them behind the closed doors and see what they think.'
Come on in.
Oh, this is fabulous.
I didn't know what to expect. This is good.
-This is good.
-This is your main living space and your kitchen, next to it.
-It's all about the view onto the river.
-Yeah. And what was the mill for?
-It was for milling flour.
-Actually, it's a good question, because your balcony...
-The view is amazing.
This used to be where they pulled up the corn.
The whole apartment is really about the river.
Looking out, wherever you sit, you can look out onto the Thames.
The kitchen probably falls short of your dream kitchen.
I think it's compact.
What's nice is that it does flow very nicely into the rest of the space. That's a nice dining space.
-It's not cramped.
-No, it does work in the context of the layout of the room.
-You've certainly given us the absolute perfect view.
-Maybe we need to save and buy this as well!
-Our weekend residence.
'Now we head upstairs to the master bedroom.'
-This little crow's nest is your master suite.
-Very compact again.
These two cupboards are very deep. They go right to the end of the building, almost walk-in wardrobes.
-More wardrobes there.
-Lots of lovely light. Views of the hillside and trees.
-I like the staircase.
-What's that room?
-The en suite.
Might need to do a bit of a refurb of the bathroom suite, but lovely views again.
-Soak in the bath and hear the weir running.
'We retrace our steps and head downstairs. Just off the living room is a modern shower room with WC
'and two further bedrooms - one a single - and a small room currently set up as a study.
'Time to head outside and take a punt on the price they'd pay for such a prime spot.'
Back outside with the view, the river, Henley, your private mooring.
-And the dreaded price.
-The dreaded price.
I have no idea where to pitch in on this one.
-Well, you're both wrong.
It's actually on the market at 550.
And it's dropped a colossal amount so the mind boggles to think what it was at the top of the market.
But it's all about the location. I can't conceive of how much premium you have on having your own mooring.
It is a beautiful view. That's unquestionable, but it...
-I'd like to have that as my weekend residence. Unfortunately....
-So would I!
Why don't you walk around and think about this whole move?
-This is an important move for you.
-Compromises have to be made.
Have a stroll around and I'll be sitting here by the waterside.
Go explore. ..It's fascinating, you know.
If they're really contemplating a big downsizing move,
then thinking about a house that isn't for their two children is actually a really big issue.
And this is not a bad starting point, but maybe they're not quite ready to downsize yet.
This apartment in a Grade 2-listed mill conversion comes in under budget at £550,000
and offers our couple:
I don't think it's possible. It's far too small.
-It doesn't fit our requirements at this time of life.
-We can't create the dream.
-Perhaps we'll have to tone down our expectations.
-Seems that way.
I couldn't fault the location. It's idyllic. It would make a wonderful weekend place to come
and just spend time and chill out, but in terms of living, I don't think the accommodation is ideal for us.
Maybe as a retirement home, but not just yet.
It's difficult to get the property right and the location,
but I will compromise.
I have realised since we've been looking in the area,
I don't have the amount of money that's necessary to tick all of our boxes, so we'll have to compromise.
And I'm not sure which way we'll compromise.
Will it be being near a river or...or the size of the house?
'Karen and Mark's property tour of Oxfordshire is now over and there's plenty to think about.'
Usually I'm pretty certain which house our buyers will go for,
but with Mark and Karen I'm not quite so sure. They're turned out to be pretty dubious downsizers.
They could go for the house with the most bedrooms after all. Let's find out.
-Here you are! Relaxing after a hard day's property shopping.
One more thing I need to ask you and that's your favourite property.
Can you cast your minds back to that Cotswold-stone barn conversion? What were your thoughts about that?
I loved that one. I could see me and Mark in there.
It had that modern feel, which I liked, but it still had the old traditional barn look.
I really liked that property. I loved the layout. Perfect kitchen.
Nice-sized lounge, bedrooms good. Everything about it I liked.
And yet you also liked the higgledy-piggledy conversion, a bit further out in Berkshire.
I loved the quirkiness of it. The higgledy-piggledy look we liked.
Yeah. So much character. The church doors as you go in.
The multi-level rooms, but there were just too many rooms and too much cleaning for Karen.
-She's talking about less cleaning.
-And it was difficult cleaning because of the layout.
At the other end of the scale, the apartment by the waterside.
Location, view, absolutely perfect, but I think you've gone over the top with the downsizing on that.
-It was just far too small for us.
-What conclusions have you drawn about downsizing?
It's something we have to do, but it's difficult with our lifestyle and all the people we have over
and trying to imagine that lifestyle continuing in our new home. It's a hard one.
-Have you decided which one you might proceed on?
-The barn conversion.
I'd like to take our daughters to look at it.
And who knows?
Who knows? Watch this space.
-Very much so.
-I'm so pleased. I'll look forward to seeing you putting along the Thames.
-It's been really enjoyable.
I'll be very interested to see whether they move with their daughters into a big house
or they wait out the vagaries of the market and truly downsize a little further into the future.
Decisions, decisions. I hope you decide to join us next time. See you then.
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Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2009
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